OK, so it is Valentine’s Day. Firstly, to the local councils in the UK trying to eliminate the usage of the apostrophe, that’s Valentine’s, with apostrophes galore but no apologies anywhere.
As for Valentine’s Day itself, I can do no better than to point you towards that mine of misinformation, Wikipedia, which has quite a nice write-up of all things Valentinian.
Will I be sending Valentine Cards to people? I don’t think so – if you are going to profess undying love by cutting your heart out and giving your still beating heart to your lover, then you should do that on any day of the year, not wait for the commercial juggernaut that is Valentine’s Day – chocolate, flowers and greeting cards.
There are more interesting events from February 14 to interest us, such as the very famous Saint Valentine’s Day massacre when several (actually, I think it was seven) people were killed in Prohibition Era Chicago. Two criminal gangs in Chicago, Illinois, cleverly called the South Side and the North Side gangs (guess which side of Chicago each gang was from) fought it out in the winter of 1929, The South Side Italian gang was led by the famous gangster and racketeer, Al Capone whilst the North Side Irish gang was led by the equally famous Bugs Moran.
Other notable events occurred on 14 February and these could be an excuse for choclate at least. They include:
- 1779, James Cook is killed by Native Hawaiians near Kealakekua on the Island of Hawaii – or as they were known in those times, the Sandwich Islands … no chocolate there.
- 1797 during the French Revolutionary Wars, the Battle of Cape St. Vincent occurred where John Jervis, the 1st Earl of St Vincent and Horatio Nelson (later 1st Viscount Nelson) lead the British Royal Navy to victory over a Spanish fleet in action near Gibraltar – obviously worried about who was importing all that Valentine’s Day chocolate from the Americas.
- 1804 and Karadjordje (try saying that name with a mouthful of chocolate) leads the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire – obviously wanting cheaper chocolate.
- 1831 in a really obscure one, leastwise for me, Ras Marye of Yejju marches into Tigray and defeats and kills Dejazmach Sabagadis in the Battle of Debre Abbay. Wonder if the fight was over the cutting off of the local supply of chocolate.
- 1849 – In New York City, James Knox Polk becomes the first serving President of the United States to have his photograph taken and since then, every president seems to have spent a good proportion of his time ensuring that his photographs are more numerous than the president before him.
- 1879 and the War of the Pacific breaks out when Chilean armed forces occupy the Bolivian port city of Antofagasta and seize the supply of chocolate that was hoarded there.
- 1900 in the Second Boer War in South Africa, 20,000 British troops invade the Orange Free State after Jaffas (orange and dark chocolate).
- 1961 and Lawrencium, chemical element 103, is first synthesised at the University of California when they were trying to synthesise chocolate.
So, really, there are many good other reasons to enjoy chocolate on Valentine’s Day, one just has to look hard enough.